Thursday, January 1, 2015

Quilting Reflections on 2014

Evelyn Nall
Today as a new year starts, and as I look back on 2014, I realize that I accomplished a couple of 'different' and very exciting things from my usual quilt activities.

One was to transcribe the interview I did with the amazing Evelyn Nall for the Quilter's Save Our Stories program; getting her interview on-line and into the Library of Congress.

The other was the quilt donation project which reached a total of 70 quilts for the use and comfort of the residents of the Gift of Life transplant house. It made up the largest percentage of my 2014 quilting life.  Along with the six quilts I made and donated, I coordinated the project which I began in April.  KARE 11 TV ended up covering the story as did the Rochester, MN newspaper! You can read my previous two blogs to learn more about that or check out the links on the right hand column of this blog under "Quilts Project Links".

I made backs for the donated tops, made and applied binding to 14 quilts, sought out machine quilters to volunteer their skills, took photos and kept donor data for all of this and delivered the quilts on December 1, 2014. The whole experience was a highlight of my quilting life which amounts to nearly 40 years!

                                 Donated Bed-size quilts that I made 

 I also completed 5 doll quilts; 4 of them are part of my 'Bricks' project.

Gift for Sophie

And added a few things to my collection:
 a Hmong textile, one bed quilt and two cribs. 
The Sunbonnet Sue was a gift from a friend.


I also finished....drum roll please, a pair of wool socks which I started two years ago. Yes. One pair of socks. But. . . I knit a total of three because after I finally finished the first one it was too large. So I made one in the smaller size and then ripped out the first one and made it over. I sometimes wonder about myself, as do my friends! But I am happy with them and Minnesota currently being in single digits or below zero for a few days I am enjoying the comfort of the wool.  (Merino wool, hand dyed, size 2 needles from the toe up if you are a knitter)

Along with this were two quilt-related trips; one to Denver to visit Dawn Collector with a Needle and one to Milwaukee for the AQSG seminar.

Happy New Year to all of you!

 Do you have plans for your quilting life in 2015?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Quilt Project Wrap Up!

The total number of quilts donated to the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, Minnesota, came to 69....far surpassing my goal of 30 in honor of their 30 years of service to transplant patients! This was a result of the generosity of quilting and non-quilting friends and even strangers from a total of 8 states all across the country.

In the very last few weeks before our trip to Rochester for my husbands two year check up AND the quilt delivery, a neighbor and quilter who shared my enthusiasm for the project from the beginning, and who quilted some of the quilts on her long-arm machine, decided to tell KARE 11 television here in the Twin Cities about this project! They were interested in covering it and the whirlwind finale and publicity of the project was a really unexpected and wonderful experience!

It resulted in this  'Extra' feature aired on the 10 p.m. news on December 2. Take a look.

Reporter, Lindsey Seavert did a superb job covering all aspects of the project with excellent video footage by  photographer Deb Lyngdal.

What a talented duo! In just over 3 minutes, they told the story better than I ever could! (literally editing 4+ hours of videotaping overnight !)

The Rochester newspaper also covered it a few days later. A link to that article can be found HERE.

I sewed a label to each quilt; personalizing the donor/maker information. I think the residents will get comfort from these quilts knowing that someone who doesn't even know them cares about them during a stressful time away from home.

A slideshow of all the quilts can be found on Flickr.

As I finished up that last quilt, sewing on the binding and applying the label, Deb was filming. When I finished she asked, "How does that feel?". My first response was, '"Happy". The project had become more than I'd ever imagined. Her question made me realize that making the quilts and collecting quilts and quilt tops, making backings and bindings, doing the labels and photography, meeting new people and seeing their eagerness to participate, all of it made me realize that it had become a real highlight of my 30+ years of quilting!  So I was happy but also sad in a way to see it come to an end. The delivery of the quilts was a joyful conclusion that will always be a great memory.
Updated Resident Room!

I have taken great pleasure in all things quilt related for years and years ....making and giving and collecting quilts, doing appraisals, lectures, trunk shows, studying vintage quilts...all of it has been great but this project was something different.
Perhaps along the way, while busy sewing and finishing it all up, I forgot about the gift that started it all. The selfless gift to my husband of a kidney from a long time friend - a true Gift of Life.

Organ Donation Saves Lives!

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Special Project - 30 Quilts for 30 Years

I have a good excuse for being so lax in blogging this year. I've  been very busy with a special project!!

To make a long story somewhat shorter, I decided that I wanted to donate thirty quilts to Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, Minnesota. They provide affordable housing for patients waiting for, or recovering from, transplants of all sorts. I had personal connection with the house when my husband required a kidney transplant in 2012. 

One of the real comforts to be found in this facility is the presence of home made quilts on the beds. What a cheerful welcome to those of us away from home for an extended time.

I discovered that many of the quilts were quite worn out. Being a quilter, I thought that I should make a few to replace those that had done service and were ready to retire.The concept grew when I learned that 2014 is the 30th anniversary of Gift of Life.

You guessed it. I decided I wanted to donate 30 quilts!
I put out a letter explaining the project to my closest quilting friends. I talked to a nearby quilt guild and a local sewing group. A neighbor is a long-arm quilter and she offered to quilt several quilts. She got excited about the project and spread the word among her colleagues in the business and has joined me in the joy of opening these wonderful quilts, studying them and admiring their beauty. They range in size from twin to queen. They are BED quilts. Photos in this entry are just a few of the donations. I'll post more in the future.

I began getting quilt tops, completed quilts and offers to help with binding and other needs. Non-quilters wanting to participate sent money for needed supplies. I got busy making quilts myself, sewing backings for the donated tops, making and applying bindings to those that needed it and keeping a database of all the participants. I measured and photographed each quilt and began to design a label to put on each that would represent the project.

About this time the ALS 'ice bucket' campaign was taking off and it really felt like MY project was sort of doing the same thing! It just caught on and continues to do so.

All the way from New Jersey!
I came home carrying bags of quilts from any quilt meeting I went to. The Women of the West Quilters, the Maple Grove Community Senior quilters and the Quiltin' Babes just got INTO this!

I posted a brief mention of it on my Facebook page and while in Milwaukee for a seminar a friend from New Jersey said she would like to send a quilt. It arrived on my doorstep a few days later!

The majority are from Minnesota but participants literally cover the nation from California to Florida, up to Idaho, down to Nevada and Arizona and East to New far!

Today I am assured of having the 30 quilts I set out to donate and many many more. I will report on the total number when I have it but I am quite sure I will have around 60 if all the tops still needing quilting get done. I can no longer accept anything but completed quilts or I'll get behind. I may have to tie some of them but hope to have more volunteers to do the quilting as I think they last longer.

I've always known the quilting community was a generous and productive group but this year has proven to be the closest experience I've had in seeing it first hand. People do want to help others. People get joy from doing so. I have had people thank me for letting them be part of this

Yesterday I delivered four quilts that needed binding to a woman who was very excited to get them in time to have one to work on when the Vikings played that night. She does not like to watch TV without a quilt to bind and she had run out! I was so glad I could help her! :)

Watch for updates. And try the link to the Transplant House. It's a worthy place to support.

"Project Central"
My sewing room with stacks of quilts waiting for me to attach the label that will go on each quilt

These all came in from one evening at a local guild.

By the way.....
Have you made the choice to be an organ donor? 
There is a huge shortage.
 People are dying every day that could live with the generous Gift of Life.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bunny Crib Quilt - A Success Story

I think I mentioned some time ago that I have decided to stop saying that I was not buying anymore quilts. I understand now that I am helpless in the face of a quilt I really like at really nice price.
So I happily share with you my most recent addition.

The applique is well done and the hand quilting fine. There is embroidered detail on the central rose.

How could I pass this up? Well, it didn't always look this good which is probably why I got it for $38.

OUCH! Some very large and obvious stains on that nice white background. But so CUTE. I had to take a chance.

I was anxious to see what I could do with it. Working on stains is always a multi-step process involving patience and trial and error. It is a risk and the outcome is always unknown . However, I don't believe a dirty or soiled quilt is a good thing and I kind of enjoy the challenge.

Here's what I did:

First I made a paste of water and Restoration and applied just to that area. (It ended up being more watery than pastey  because I wanted the crystals to be dissolved.)
I worked over a large white plastic bowl on the top of my washing machine. I was able to clothespin it to the edge so that it was taut and I could apply the solution to a small area and have the excess drip into the bowl to be used again. I used a small plastic measuring cup with a spout.
I  thought I could see it working right away.

I let it soak that way for awhile. Then, I rubbed a bit of my Aunt Agnes' homemade bar soap into one stain to see what happened. (This is the only thing that got my boys socks clean - you know how they wear them outside without shoes...on blacktop?) Her recipe had  lye in and and who knows what-all but I recall my Mom saving bacon grease for her to make it. She had such a supply that both my sister and I still have some bars and she passed away in 1981!!
So back to my project.
I gingerly rubbed the yellowed bar on the stains and quickly manipulated the fabric by hand to rub it in all the way. Dilute with more water....
I was excited that even while still wet the stains were getting much lighter.
Okay. Here's the scary part. I put a TINY bit of bleach in a cup of water. I mean about 1/4 teaspoon. VERY diluted. I was careful to direct it onto the stains and avoided colored fabrics - AND  I have pure clean water at the ready to pour through it almost immediately.

My supplies
After all of this attention to detail I immersed the whole quilt into the washing machine with a 'friendly' soap I get at Whole Foods with no brighteners, bleaches etc. I let it sit in the suds without agitation for a bit  then set it for 'hand wash'.
I put it in the dryer on low with a couple of dry,white towels to help fill the dryer and cushion the quilt as it cycles around. I opened the dryer at 10 minutes and took it out while still damp.
Voila.... I laid it on a white sheet on the floor to finish drying and manipulated it gently to square it up. When dry, the quilting really showed nicely and I felt I"d improved it greatly.

It reminds me a little bit of another cute appliqued crib quilt in my collection, one I also washed:

This is a little pillow cover - The bottom white piece would tuck in and be whip stitched after inserting the pillow. The maker simplified and reduced the size of the posy.

Have you washed a vintage quilt?